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June 13, 2021, 2:01 p.m. EDT

Novak Djokovic battles back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas at French Open

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Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic came all the way back after dropping the first two sets to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the French Open final Sunday for his 19th Grand Slam title.

Djokovic’s second trophy at Roland Garros moves him one major championship away from tying the men’s record of 20 shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

It also puts reigning Australian Open champion Djokovic halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, something no man has accomplished since Rod Laver in 1969.

The 34-year-old Djokovic eliminated 13-time French Open champion Nadal in a semifinal that lasted more than four hours Friday night. That might be why the 22-year-old Tsitsipas had the upper hand early, and Djokovic looked drained for two sets.

Eventually, though, he started making fewer mistakes, got his best-in-the-game returning on track, served almost flawlessly down the stretch and was able to complete his sixth career comeback from two sets down — and second of the past week.

Indeed, the International Tennis Federation said Djokovic — who trailed 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti two sets to none in the fourth round — is the first man in the professional era to win a Grand Slam tournament after twice facing a 2-0 deficit in sets.

Experience could have been a factor, too.

This was the first major final for Tsitsipas and 29th for Djokovic, who also won the French Open in 2016, along with nine titles at the Australian Open, five at Wimbledon and three at the U.S. Open.

Of just as much, if not more, significance to the ultimate outcome Sunday: Djokovic entered the day with a 34-10 record in five-setters — including a men’s-record 31 wins in Grand Slam matches of that length — while Tsitsipas was 5-4.

On a sunny and breezy afternoon, with the temperature approaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit (over 25 degrees Celsius), Tsitsipas needed just over 100 minutes to grab a big lead Sunday.

But the tenacious and talented Djokovic did not quit, grabbing early breaks in each of the last three sets.

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